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Strategies That Can Be Implemented Today to Help You Out of a Slump

Welcome to another heartfelt episode of the Mom-entum podcast! On this episode, I open up about my personal struggles with seasonal depression and share powerful strategies to empower women on their motherhood journey.

 

Key Points:

 

1. Thoughts Matter: Our thoughts create our emotions.  It's important to challenge negative thinking patterns by way of journaling and questioning our thoughts.

2. Filling Your Mind with Positivity: Intentionally surround yourself with positivity through podcasts, books, and positive influences while avoiding negativity from sources like the news and social media.

3. Turning to a Higher Power: Faith and prayer can play a vital role in overcoming challenges.  It can help to let go of your worries and concerns, surrender your burdens to God, and ask for help.  I like to pray for strength, wisdom, clarity, and guidance.

4. Movement as Medicine: Explore the mental health benefits of exercise, even with just 5 minutes a day. Movement has many advantages such as enhancing mood, reducing stress, and contributing to overall well-being.

5. Comparison and Self-Worth: Comparison can be very harmful to our mental health.  In this episode I offer strategies to overcome this common challenge, such as avoiding social media and intentionally focusing on strengths.

6. Gratitude Practice: I dive into the transformative power of gratitude, explaining how it positively impacts health, relationships, and overall well-being. Practical tips on developing an attitude of gratitude are shared.

7. Decluttering for Mental Clarity: Explore the connection between physical and mental clutter, and how decluttering both aspects contributes to a more positive mindset. If you need help decluttering your physical spaces, click here to access my Decluttering Checklist for Busy Moms, which is a quick and easy step by step tool designed to simplify and take the guess work out of decluttering, so you can stop procrastinating, overcomplicating and just GET IT DONE!

8. Nutrition’s Impact on Mood: Brief insights into the importance of essential nutrients, such as B vitamins, Vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium, in supporting mental health.

9. Quality Sleep: I discuss the vital role of sleep in mental well-being, offering practical tips for improving sleep quality, from bedtime routines to creating an optimal sleep environment.

10. The Power of Connection: Acknowledge the significance of human connection in mental health, with studies highlighting the negative impact of loneliness.  I encourage listeners to reach out and foster connections.

 

Closing Thoughts:

I am so grateful to you listeners and supporters of The Mom-entum Podcast.  If you found value in this episode or if you know of someone who would benefit from the content shared here, I encourage you to share this episode with them.

 

These strategies are personal tools that have made a difference in MY life and are meant for informational purposes only.  This episode was created and shared with the intent of sharing with you the tools you already have, that are easily accessible, things that you can do to make a change in your life. But please, if you are needing extra help, if you are struggling to function, and ESPECIALLY if you are having thoughts of self-harm or harm to others, seek immediate medical treatment.  And remember, everything in this life is temporary.  Do not make a permanent decision over a temporary feeling or circumstance.

 

Join me on this empowering journey through challenges, resilience, and the pursuit of well-being. Remember, you are not alone!

Resources Mentioned In Show
  • Need help organizing your time?  A great way to start is by doing a time audit.  Don't know where to start?  I've got you covered! For access to my FREE TIME AUDIT TOOL click here.

  • Click here for your FREE DECLUTTERING CHECKLIST.

  • Click here to join The Mom-entum Podcast Private Facebook Community

  • Please subscribe, rate and review the show to help me reach and support more amazing moms just like you! Click here to learn how.

  • STAY INFORMED:  Click here to read the PubMed article on Dietary Nutrient Deficiencies and Risk of Depression.

  • For more tips on improving your sleep quality visit sleepfoundation.org.

  • To read the CDC article on the Effect of Inadequate Sleep on Frequent Mental Distress click here.

  • Click here for article on 5 Key Nutrients Your Brain Needs.

TRANSCRIPT

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Mom-entum podcast, the show dedicated to inspiring, uplifting and empowering women on their journey through motherhood.  My name is Tanya Valentine and I’m thrilled and so very grateful you are here.

 

So I’m gonna get honest for a sec here and say that I have been feeling pretty down lately.  And I have moments like this. Ever since I was a teenager I have had these episodes of depression.  And I have to say that I have come a long way.  But lately I have to be honest, I’ve been having a hard time.  And I hate even saying that, because I don’t want to seem ungrateful.  I have so much to be grateful for.  I’m grateful for this beautiful life I have, for my health, for my family, I’m so so grateful that I am fortunate enough to stay at home with my kids, I never take this for granted. I understand that this day in age what a privilege it is to be able to stay at home with your kids.  But sometimes it can get a bit lonely.  I miss the camaraderie of working with a team.  I can fall into these holes where I struggle with feelings of low self worth and low self esteem. And I know it’s all due to my thinking.  This knowledge has helped get me get out of this hole of depression and I would say prevents me from ever experiencing feelings of hopelessness.  Knowing that it’s all because of my thoughts and knowing that these feelings are temporary definitely gives me this sense of empowerment and faith that it will pass.  But when I’m in it, it’s hard.  And although I know it’s my thoughts, sometimes I struggle because the thoughts can feel so true in the moment.  Thoughts like nobody cares, and I’m not doing enough, and there’s nothing special about me, I have no talent.  But these are all lies.  And these thoughts that seem to appear out of nowhere, I really do have a choice whether or not I want to believe them and I do have the choice to shift my focus.  And what you focus on you magnify in your life.  So that’s what I want to talk about today.  If there are any of you out there experiencing the winter blues like I am, I want to give you the strategies and tools that have worked for me to get through these depressive episodes faster, and they help to give me hope and feel powerful in knowing that there are things that I can do to help myself, that will help prevent me from sinking so low to the point where I would be totally dysfunctional.  I can honestly say, that even through my depressive episodes I always remain functional, I’m always able to take care of myself and others and I know it’s because of these tools and strategies that I’ve relied upon over the years and I’m going to share these with you today.  And if you try at least one of these things, I know it will help you feel better.

 

So are you feeling like you are in a slump?  Maybe you feel like you have no motivation.  Maybe you feel like just giving up on whatever that thing is that you are working towards.  Maybe you are feeling stuck, or feeling down and a little depressed as is common this time of year due to the weather, its called seasonal depression.  Whatever it is for you, then this episode is for you.  Today I will talk about the causes of these low level emotions as well as practical strategies and coping mechanisms you can use to ease you through and help you feel better.

 

I want to preface this with a disclaimer that although this podcast episode discusses strategies for overcoming depression, it is not intended as medical advice. If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of self-harm or harm to others, it is crucial to seek immediate treatment from a healthcare professional. The content shared here is for informational purposes only, and professional guidance should be sought for personalized assistance. Your well-being is of utmost importance. And I want to repeat these words of wisdom that I heard Pastor Rick Warren say and that’s “don’t ever make a permanent decision over a temporary situation”.  Know that all emotions and circumstances are temporary.  It will come to pass.  Even if it seems like it is taking forever, I promise it will pass my friend.  Never make important decisions when you’re in a state of depression.

 

So I am someone who is not a stranger to depression.  I have been challenged with bouts of depression ever since I was a teenager.  So I know firsthand what this feels like.  And I think this goes without saying that it can never hurt to seek help from a healthcare professional if you are feeling depressed, but I would say it’s especially important to seek help if you notice it’s impairing how you function in everyday life, meaning your ability to care for yourself or those that depend on you. 

 

So what causes these low level emotions?  Well the truth is its multifactorial, but today I’m not really going to talk about the causes that are out of our control, like genetics, but rather focus on the things that are within our control so that we can feel empowered to do something about it. 

 

So the first thing I’m going to talk about is your thoughts.  Because as I keep repeating over and over again on this show, in case you haven’t heard it before, your thoughts always cause your emotions.  And this has been said time and time again by experts and thought leaders that our thoughts influence our emotions.  

 

Dr. Joe Dispenza, who is a New York Times best-selling author, researcher, lecturer and corporate consultant has said, “Your thoughts drive your feelings, and your feelings drive your thoughts, and eventually this loop hardwires your brain into the same patterns.”  

 

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat Pray Love” and “Big Magic” has said, “Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.”

 

Guatama Buddha said “Thoughts drive your emotions, what you think you become”

 

Here’s a quote by Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits they become your character; watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”


 

So with this knowledge, what is it that you are thinking about that is causing this low level emotion? Are you aware of what you are thinking about?  If not, it is important to start thinking about what you think about.  Start paying attention to your thoughts.  Write in a journal.  Journaling is so huge because it allows you to slow your thinking down, unravel the thoughts that are stuck in a loop in your brain, and actually look at them as an observer and start to question them.  

 

So problem #1 is your thoughts.  Here are some strategies to overcome this obstacle:

 

  1. Journal.  Even if it’s just 5 minutes per day.  It’s not hard.  Just set a timer for 5 minutes and go to town writing.  Don’t overcomplicate it just write down whatever comes to mind. Then circle thoughts.  Thoughts are not facts.  Thoughts are just your interpretation of the world around you.  They are the stories we make up in our brain.  Next step, once you have all your thoughts circled, question them.  Is this thought true?  Is it true that you, I don’t know, have nothing to offer.  Well that’s bs because the very fact that you are here living on this Earth means that you have value, you have something to offer, God has a purpose for your life.  Look at those babies, they need you, you are their everything, you are raising the future generation of this world, this is an important purpose.  So once you’ve questioned all of these negative thoughts, it’s time to replace these negative lies in your brain with positivity.

  2. Step 2 is Intentionally fill your brain with positivity: podcasts, books, positive people. Avoid negative influences like the news and social media.  I for one never watch the news.  I just don’t.  I refuse to fill my mind with the added fear and negativity.  It’s not necessary and it can actually be quite harmful to your mental health.

  3. Step 3 is focus your attention on a Higher Power.  I turn to God in my time of need.  I pray, and I tell Him what I’m going through, and I ask for His help.  I just surrender to Him and trust and have faith that it will all work out for the good and that God has a bigger plan for my life.  I pray for clarity, I pray for strength, I pray for courage.  And I always feel better, lighter, a sense of relief when I’m through.  I love this saying too, “it will all be ok in the end, and if it isn’t ok then it’s not the end”. 


 

Moving onto problem #2: a sedentary lifestyle, not moving your body enough.  I’m sure you have heard it before, but you’ve heard it because it is true, movement is medicine. And exercise has always been huge for me in helping me get through a low state.  It has been a great coping mechanism of mine and I would say I do it more now for the effects I feel on my mental health vs. the effect it has on my physical appearance. 

 

When you exercise, it improves the blood flow to your brain, and more blood flow to your brain means more oxygen in your brain.  Having a regular exercise routine can help boost your brain health as it can decrease the effects of stress on the body, improves mental health and mood and it even enhances memory and cognition. 

 

But how can you get yourself motivated when you are feeling so down and your energy levels are in the toilet? It’s as easy as just getting started.  Just do something.  Give yourself 5 minutes. Just walk for 5 minutes.  Go up and down the stairs for 5 minutes. You don't even need a gym membership or equipment.  But you’ve just gotta get started doing something.  If you give yourself a minimum of 5 minutes a day, I know that doesn’t seem like enough at first, but if you’re not doing anything now then it’s better than doing nothing.  And if you’re more likely get your body moving because it is only 5 minutes then just start there.  You have 5 minutes.  You could easily look on pinterest or youtube for 5 minute exercises that you can do.  I think I may have even seen 5 minute exercises on netflix.  Once you get going with your 5 minute minimum movement, you will notice that you have started to build a relationship with yourself that you do what you say you are going to do.  You build trust in yourself that you can stick to your commitments.  And then from there you can gradually extend the time and do more.  Point is, it’s really not that difficult.  And the benefits you will get out of it will be well worth the effort.  

 

Exercise has been proven to improve sleep, energy levels, mood, reduce anxiety and depression, reduce your risks of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, it increases your resilience, honestly the list goes on and on when talking about the benefits of exercise.  So if you don’t have a regular exercise routine, I cannot stress enough, do this and you will notice the positive impact it will have on your mood.

 

The 3rd problem that can cause these low level emotions is comparison.  Comparison leads to feelings of low self worth, low self esteem, inadequacy, inferiority, jealousy, envy, guilt and shame among others.  These are all low level emotions that basically make you feel like poo.  Comparison is something that we all do as human beings and it’s actually a built in defense mechanism that at one time served us to keep us alive, but in this day in age it is actually very debilitating.  In the cave man days we would compare ourselves to others so that we would fit in with the crowd and not be kicked out of the tribe, because to be kicked out of the tribe would mean you lose the protection of the group and you would die.  But we don’t have to worry about that anymore.  And yet, we do this, we compare, and it makes us feel like crap.  So how do we overcome this built in survival mechanism?  It’s not as easy as saying “well I don’t give a crap about what people think”. It’s more of just working on ourselves and developing a better sense of self worth, self love and that self assuredness, knowing that we are individuals, designed to be our own unique puzzle piece.  We all have our own unique story, we all have a different genetic code, birth orders, upbringing, life experiences, traumas, circumstances that all influence our personality and how we interpret and show up in the world.  Its important to know that we are not meant to be like anyone else.  To be intentional about looking for our strengths.  Because we all have this negativity bias.  The negativity bias is yet another survival mechanism which says basically your brain automatically looks for the negative over the positive because it’s designed to scan the environment for danger in order to protect you and keep you alive.  So you must override that negativity bias by putting in the intentional effort to look for the good.  Identify your strengths.  You have them, I promise you do. 

 

So strategy to overcome comparison is #1; avoid social media.  And #2 make intentional effort to look for the positives in your life and identify your strengths.

 

That leads me into the next problem which is feeling sorry for ourselves, this sense of victimhood.  This is not good as it completely disempowers us and can put you in a hopeless state, one filled with lack and a very dark, narrow focus.

 

The antidote to this is GRATITUDE.  I can’t stress the importance of gratitude enough.  According to an article in Bettersleep.com, in one study, people wrote down five things they were grateful for every day for a week had higher levels of immunoglobulin A than those who didn’t.  Immunoglobulin A is an antibody that helps fight off infection, so gratitude can actually help keep you healthy by boosting your immune system.  

 

Other health benefits of gratitude are improved sleep, improved relationships, improved mood, and less stress and worry.  

 

Zig Ziglar, a prolific author and motivational speaker, said, “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions.  The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”

 

So how do you put this into practice?  Start developing an attitude of gratitude. One way you can do this is by catching yourself when you are complaining either out loud or in your head and say to yourself, wait a minute, what about this can I be grateful for? For example, for me this morning as I was brushing my hair I caught myself complaining about how much I can’t stand my hair and how knotted it gets, then I thought wait a minute, how many cancer patients or people suffering with alopecia would kill to have this hair? If you look hard enough you will find something to be grateful for. You might need to zoom out a little bit from the problems in your life to see it from a different perspective, but if you force yourself to look for something to be grateful about , you will find it. Whatever you look for you will find.

 

Another great exercise to do is a gratitude practice.  Just take 5 minutes, or even start with 2 minutes and just write down as many things as you can that you can be grateful for.  If you can’t think of anything to be grateful for let me give you a start: the fact that you are listening to this podcast episode, the device that you are listening on whether it be a phone or a laptop or an ipad, whatever it is, what a privilege to be able to have these little devices that connect us with people all over the world.  We have access to so much information with just a click of a button.  The fact that you have clean drinking water.  Electricity.  I’m guessing that if you’re listening to this you have a roof over your head to keep you sheltered, protected and warm.  How about running water?  I was reading an article from oxfamamerica.org that read on average, women and children in developing countries walk 3.7 miles and carry 5 gallons everyday to bring clean water home to their families.  So clean drinking water and clean running water to bathe in and wash our clothes and dishes in is something to be extremely grateful for.  Do this everyday and watch the effects it has on your life. 


 

Declutter. Let go of both the physical and mental garbage you’re holding onto.

 

Decluttering isn't just about organizing your physical space; it extends to your mental well-being. The items we surround ourselves with and the thoughts we hold onto contribute significantly to our emotional state. Clearing physical clutter can create a sense of order and peace, but it goes hand in hand with addressing mental clutter. Our minds can become cluttered with negative thoughts, self-doubt, and past grievances. By consciously letting go of what no longer serves us, we create space for positivity and a clearer perspective. If you want help with your physical decluttering be sure to check out my decluttering checklist for busy moms. It’s a quick and easy step by step method you can use that helps take the guess work out of decluttering! You can access this checklist either from where you are listening to this podcast, you will see a link or you can access the link from the show notes.

 

*Another thing that can have an impact on your mood is your nutrition.  Deficiencies in nutrients, meaning not getting enough nutrients like protein, B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, selenium, iron, calcium, and omega 3 fatty acids have a significant impact on brain and nervous system function, which can affect the appearance of depressive symptoms. Now I’m not going to get into too much detail with this, but I will share some facts about the nutrients that I have learned to be the most important, which are B vitamins, Vitamin D, Omega 3 fatty acids, and Magnesium.

 

B vitamins support your body’s processes at a cellular level.  A folate deficiency, which is vitamin B9, can increase your risk factors for depression.  You can find B vitamins in foods like red meat, poultry, whole grains, and dark, leafy vegetables.  Also I think it’s important to note that drinking alcohol can inhibit your body’s ability to absorb and use B vitamins.  So if you want to enhance the effects of B vitamins, meaning if you are going to take a B vitamin and you want it to be able to do it’s job so that you can feel at your best, then you might want to consider avoiding alcohol.

 

Vitamin D is important in the development of your brain and bones and low levels have been associated with depressive symptoms and even disorders like schizophrenia.  You can get vitamin D from the sun, which we are all lacking this time of year.  But you can also get it from oily fishes such as salmon or tuna, or milk and dairy products.

 

Omega 3 fatty acids also play a vital role in your brain structure and function, and it has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of depression, PTSD, and bipolar disorder.  Omega 3s can be found in fish, oysters, nuts and seeds.

 

Minerals like zinc and magnesium contribute to your brain health and neurologic function.  Magnesium is HUGE because its function is to relax.  Magnesium is involved in more than 600 enzymatic reactions including energy metabolism and the creation of proteins in the body.  Any twitching, spasm, or irritability (think anxiety) in the body is probably related to low magnesium levels.  In fact, when women come into the hospital in pre-term labor or if she has pre-eclampsia (which is high blood pressure in pregnancy), they are treated with IV magnesium because it helps the blood vessels relax, lowering blood pressure, and helps the muscles relax in the uterus which then stops the contractions.  Low levels of magnesium can also cause constipation, which is why constipation can often be treated with milk of magnesia or mag citrate.  Magnesium can also help you sleep, so if you are thinking about taking a supplement, you might want to take it at night.  Another thing you can do is take an epsom salt bath before you go to bed.  Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulfate, and by soaking in an epsom salt bath your body actually absorbs the magnesium through your skin and this helps relax sore muscles and can also help you get a good night’s rest.

 

Now there are things that can lower your magnesium level such as a diet high in sugar and starch, alcohol, and coffee.  Foods that are a good natural source of magnesium are green, leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, or swiss chard, whole grains, nuts, beans, and pumpkin seeds.

 

Now if you get honest with yourself, though, you know how you feel when you regularly eat foods that are not good for you.  You feel sluggish, bloated, and for me it can just worsen my depression.  And we can get caught in this cycle of feel bad, eat something that’s probably not good for us to avoid the crappy feeling, feel good for a short period becuase you get that pleasure, that dopamine hit, but then you feel worse.  And then we end up eating more even when we don’t need it because our body knows it is lacking in nutrients that it needs to perform at its best, and your not getting those nutrients from ultra processed, starchy, sugary foods.  So your body might be telling you that you’re hungry, even when you might have met your body’s caloric requirements, but you haven’t necessarily met the nutrient requirements. Does that make sense.  And then the more foods like this that we eat, the sugary, starchy, ultra processed foods, the more we are going to crave it.  So we end up caught in this vicious cycle when we are not only emotionally eating, that’s eating to escape an unpleasant emotion, but we are also eating because we are addicted to these crappy foods that aren’t actually supplying our bodies with the adequate nutrition we need, but they are also depleting our bodies of the nutrients we need to feel and function at our best.

 

-Onto the next thing which is sleep. According to a study I read from the CDC, where they examined the association between inadequate sleep and frequent mental distress in a diverse sample of adults aged 18-65, they found that 13% of the study participants experienced inadequate sleep, and 14.1% experienced frequent mental distress.  And participants who averaged 6 hours or less of sleep per night were about 2.5 times more likely to have frequent mental distress. In other words, inadequate sleep is associated with significantly increased odds of mental distress.

 

I know this can be hard for moms, especially when you are in that newborn phase, or the dreaded teething stage or when your kids are sick. But if you are lacking sleep because you are having a hard time falling asleep or if you wake up multiple times a night and have a hard time falling asleep then here are some suggestions of things that could help.  First off, i can’t stress enough, the importance of avoiding taking a sleep aid like ambien or an anti anxiety medication like xanax or ativan to help you sleep.  These medications are highly addictive and they are only really meant to be used on an as needed, very short term basis.  Things to avoid that could be interrupting your sleep are things like alcohol, sugar, carbonated drinks, and avoiding caffeine after 2 pm.  It can help to have a bedtime routine where you dim the lights, avoid blue light from screens, or you can even wear those blue blocker glasses that block the blue light from screens that can keep you up at night.  According to sleepfoundation.org, the best room temperature to sleep is approximately 65 degrees fahrenheit for the most comfortable sleep.  Taking an epsom salt bath with a little lavender essential oil can also help improve sleep. Put a lavender essential oil in your diffuser if you have one at night while you are doing your night time routine.  Getting up at the same time every morning can help regulate your circadian rhythm and help you sleep better.  Having a regular exercise routine, but avoiding exercise at least 1-2 hours before going to bed, giving endorphin levels time to wash out and the brain time to wind town, according to an article I read from John Hopkins Medicine.  Meditation or prayer before bed is also a great way to wind down and improve your sleep.

 

The next thing I want to talk about is the importance of connection in improving your mental health.  This is one that I tend to struggle with and it is something I want to get better at.  Studies have shown that loneliness is as bad for people’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.  Can you believe that?  So reach out to others.  Don’t wait for others to reach out to you.  If you haven’t received a phone call from a friend or family member in a while, don’t make it mean anything about you.  It is not that they don’t care.  Life gets busy, right? And we can all get caught up in our own stuff.  So be the one that takes the lead, be the friend that you want others to be to you.  You will be so glad you did.


 

As we wrap up this episode, I want to express my gratitude for each one of you who took the time to listen. Remember, these strategies shared today are not a one-size-fits-all solution, but tools that have made a difference in my life. If you find yourself in a place of darkness, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Together, let's embrace the power within us to reshape our thoughts, engage in positive practices, and foster a sense of gratitude. Life's challenges are temporary, and by making intentional choices, we can navigate through them with strength and resilience. Thank you for being part of this journey. And if I could ask a quick favor before you go. If you found this show valuable, would you mind taking 2 minutes to leave a rating and review?  This helps more people find the show.  And if you know anyone who is going through a tough time and you think would benefit from the content discussed in today’s episode, please consider sharing it with them, I would be so incredibly grateful.  Until next time, take care, and remember that you are not alone.

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